Page:010 Once a week Volume X Dec 1863 to Jun 64.pdf/665

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June 4, 1864.]
657
ONCE A WEEK.

Wanderer over land and sea,
To the land of truth and tea?
When he thought his troubles o’er
Bliss his own for evermore.
See him wrecked upon the shore,
Poorer than he was before.
You’ll one difference, if you try,
From your name in his descry.
If you ask me where it lie,
I shall, answering, ask you—Why?

The Princess, receiving a copy of the riddle, left the room with her attendants, and the Emperor said they would meet again next morning, when the Princess would give her decision. That evening, she sent her mistress of the robes to entreat Ch-ng P-ng to give up all thoughts of marriage, but it was in vain; and afterwards she dispatched Chong Pong to ferret out the secret, the answer to the riddle. Entering the apartment of Ch-ng P-ng disguised as a nurse, he succeeded in cajoling him to disclose the answer, and throwing off exultingly his disguise as he left the room, plunged Ch-ng P-ng into indignation and grief at the plot by means of which he had been bamboozled and betrayed.

The next morning the court assembled, and Chang Pang, who of course had had an interview with the minister, rose and repeated solemnly and triumphantly, as follows:—

Why the refugee on high
Bent his bold aspiring eye,
Why, when thinking bliss was nigh,
In the dust low he must lie;
Why his cunning I defy,
Why no hope he may descry,
Why ere evening he must die;
Why? Chyng Pyng is spelt with y.

The Emperor was surprised and shocked, Chyng Pyng showed blank despair, but the minister applauded vociferously, while the Princess, veiled, resumed her seat. Chyng Pyng, whose fate seemed certain, seeing no help or sympathy in any face, prepared for death, which seemed now imminent; when the Princess Chang Pang rose, and throwing off her veil, acknowledged her heart melted, and expressed her intention of giving him her hand in marriage, saying she had loved him from the first, which last remark somewhat staggered him. All the court were delighted, except Chong Pong, who, overwhelmed with disappointment, soon afterwards left the court, and married his cook, for it seemed no one else would have him. The Prince then disclosed his name and rank, which gave great delight to both the Emperor and Princess, and after a short delay to prepare the marriage festivities, Chyng Pyng and Chang Pang were united in wedlock, and became the parents of a long line of kings.




BACCHUS AND THE WATER-THIEVES.

 

Journeying from Naxos swiftly towards Crete,
Leaving behind him now the Cyclades,
Those island gems that necklace the blue sea
With strings of pearl, and emerald Sporades,
Bacchus, as the swift bark skimmed, dipped, and leaped
Beneath the fluttering canvas, softly slept.

The god had left his panthers in fair Crete,
His thyrsus-bearers and his corybants,
His frolic satyrs and his Indian pomp,
In vineyard caverns and in forest haunts;
And, now alone, his beauteous limbs at rest,
The cypress-planks of a poor galley prest.

The boat by magic moved upon the wave,
The sea-nymphs drew it thro’ the deep unseen;
Great dolphins gambolled round the frothing keel,
White sea-birds flew above the ripples green.
While Iris from a bright cloud smiled to see
That youthful god disdain the wrathful sea.

Sudden from Lemnos, rising bleak and blue,
Down sea-side crags the eager robbers came,
Leaping to man their boats and seize the prize,
Seeing the heedless craft; no fear or shame
Restrained that rude, fierce horde; a hundred oars
At the same moment pushed off from those shores.

Waving their knives and darts, they leaped aboard,
Yelling out war cries, with a druuken glee;
Flashing their axes, and their crooked swords,
In ravenous rage, and murderous ecstasy.
But still the youth upon the sunny prow,
Slept with one hand crossing his fair white brow.

Enraged to find no spices, wine, or gold,
With blows they woke him, and with laughter grim, Binding him to the mast with biting cords,
That made the blood spring from each radiant limb.
Then piling pine-knots, vowed to sacrifice
To Vulcan this fair youth, their trembling prize.

“Spare me!” he cried, “my mother sighs for me
In Naxos, where my father, old and blind,
Begs for his bread. O, Fate! thou mystery,
That brought me to this woe. O! seamen kind,
Spare a poor youth, so free from sin and blame,
And do not give me to that cruel flame.”

Then one relented; but they stabbed that man,
And threw him bleeding to the wistful sharks,
And then ’mid cymbal-clash and barbarous drum,
Blew from the smouldering logs the crimson sparks,
Unbound the lad and threw him on his knees,
Singing their savage hymns to the hushed seas.

 

Then he raised up his hands unto the sun,
And prayed in agony to Father Jove.
And, lo! a strength divine came to his heart,
And thunder answered him from far above.
Now, he stood luminous, a starry crown
Glittering upon his brow and tresses brown.

And, suddenly, the rigging’s knotted ropes
Were changed to creeping tendrils of the vine,
And from the mast the purple clusters hung,
Every rich berry swollen with red wine.
The very bulwarks began next to grow,
And long green shoots rose from the hold below.